1:00 PM: On Sunday, I decided to get a later start. The first band I wanted to see wasn’t on until 1:30 and I knew where they would play, so I decided to skip the lines to go straight to the music I wanted to hear.
1:30 PM: I made my way towards the front of the pit at the Mars Stage to see a band I had never heard, The Oh Hellos. I knew they were kind of similar to The Head and the Heart and one of my friends had recommended them to me, so I decided to give them a try. They started a little late, because of their ten-piece sound check, but once the show started it just got better and better. They started with “The Valley,” a very empowering song with great vocals. I learned later that they are actually a local band, formed in Texas by a brother and sister who serve as the band’s lead vocalists. The thing I loved most about this group was their energy and connection with the crowd. They weren’t afraid to dance and get lost in their own music, which made the crowd want even more. I’m definitely glad I saw them live while I had the chance.
2:10 PM: I left The Oh Hellos’ set a little early in order to make it over to the Neptune Stage to see Washed Out. They also went on late because of technical difficulties, which sucked, but is to be expected at a festival like this. Washed Out wrote the song that is now the theme song for the TV show Portlandia. Their concert was one of the highlights of my day because of their sound and their stage presence. The only downside was the timing; this show started just as it got really hot outside with no clouds to be seen. Luckily, a girl with a water gun was squirting it throughout the crowd. At most concerts, people like this would be ridiculed, but at Free Press, all the people who were squirted genuinely thanked her.
3:10 PM: Around this time The Naked and Famous’ set was starting on the main stage. On the way over, I ran into some friends and we watched the beginning of their set from the hill. I had heard some of their music before, and it’s very upbeat and dance-prone. This set was no different, with the New Zealand lead singer even stopping singing at one point, exclaiming, “Let’s dance!” It was a great show to see from the top of the hill in the shade because it had gotten quite hot and humid outside.
3:45 PM: I left their set a little early because I wanted to catch a little of tUnE-yArDs’ set. The song of theirs I was most familiar with was “Powa,” and I really enjoyed their unique sound. But of course, when I got there, the crowd was already overflowing into the street. I settled for listening to their set while getting a snack.
3:50 PM: I went back to the Neptune Stage to listen to tUnE-yArDs’ set, and just as I sat down on the curb the tune of “Powa” started to float out of the speakers. It was a great moment.
4:40 PM: One of the bands I had not heard much about but still wanted to see was Poolside, a duo who make “sub-aquatic indie dance music” — or so their Spotify biography said. I really liked their cover of Neil Young’s song “Harvest Moon,” and was super excited to see them play. But they didn’t start their set until about 5:00 (more technical difficulties), and they were playing on one of the smaller stages tucked back behind some trees, with so much cigarette smoke that I felt like I was suffocating. I ended up moving out of my good spot and towards the back of the crowd to watch the majority of their set, just for my own well-being.
5:30 PM: After I felt like I had had enough, I walked all the way across the park to the main stage to wait for Ms. Lauryn Hill. By this time I was tired, sweaty, a little sunburned, and ready for a break. I found a good spot on the grass, filled up my water bottle, and waited for her set to end so I could get a good spot for Edward Sharpe.
6:00 PM: Her set finally drew to a close around six PM, and I, once again, slid down the muddy pathway into the pit. I actually got really close spots to the stage and proceeded to wait it out for Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros to come on.
6:30 PM: Annise Parker made an arrival to talk about the benefits of Free Press for Houston and its citizens.
6:50 PM: Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros finally made their way onstage, working their way through their show with audience participation in place of a setlist. The guy next to me said that their singer had crowd surfed at Bonnaroo, so I wasn’t surprised when Alex Ebert jumped into the crowd to crowd surf. But when he crowd surfed directly above me while singing “Man on Fire,” it was a pretty shocking experience. I would say I was a fan of Edward Sharpe before seeing them live, but their live performance was something else. There was something so free-form and uniting about it, and with a twelve-piece band like theirs, there was an ample amount of energy to go around. I’ve been listening to their music non-stop these past few days because of how much I enjoyed them live.
7:50 PM: I decided to turn in early, having no desire to see Jack White or Above and Beyond. I walked back with one of my friends to Carnegie, basking in the light of the last two days.
FPSF 2014 was a great experience for me. I saw my favorite band live, and also discovered a lot of new music. I also learned a few tips along the way which I would like to share with you here.
- Pick comfort over fashion: I wore tennis shoes both days and didn’t regret it. I’d rather have comfortable feet than fashionable feet any day.
- It’s okay to go alone! I was so worried about having the right group of friends to go with that I almost forgot what I was there for. When you go to concerts or festivals alone, you have so much more freedom to see who you want to see. It made my experience a million times better.
- Know yourself and when you need to rest: Even though I stayed hydrated and tried to stay out of the sun for too long, I got tired. Knowing when I needed to take a break and sit down allowed me to keep my energy up for the bigger night time shows.
- Remember what you’re there for: You paid money to see music, so go see music. Don’t spend the whole day looking for your friend or worrying about your schedule. Try out new artists, pick a random show — festivals are all about exploring new sounds and acts.
ANNOUNCEMENT: Are you bummed out that you missed Houston natives The Tontons this past Saturday because of the Free Press Summer Fest weather evacuation? You’re in luck! The Tontons have decided that, in light of not getting to play on the main stage this past weekend at FPSF, that they will play a free show upstairs at Fitzgerald’s this Friday at 8:00. Other performers will include fellow Houston natives Fat Tony, BLSHS, and Wreslers will also be playing. How do you come to this show, you might ask? RSVP on their facebook event page and support local music!